In this week's post, Jessica and her friends plan their own excursion up to Cork, Ireland, where they tour the English market, tour the Blarney Castle and grounds, and kiss the Blarney Stone!
Unfortunately, I did not document my kissing of the Blarney Stone because I was so squeamish about germs at first and decided to just do it in the spur of the moment, but hey, I still have a story to tell.
The day started out at 6:30am – the time our bus left Dublin. My friends and I took the GoBus, and it only cost 20 euros round trip. After 3 hours, we were in Cork with the whole day to explore. We started exploring the city at the English Market and ate breakfast upstairs. There was so much fresh food that looked delicious along with so many other things to buy. We then had the decision to either take a tour of the city or visit the Blarney Castle. Out of the 7 of us, Blarney Castle won, and we set out to figure out the Cork bus system to Blarney.
Entrance to the English Market in Cork.
I thought that the Blarney Castle was in the middle of nowhere and that was all there was to see but, boy, was I wrong. The Blarney Castle is surrounded by the most beautiful gardens in a cute little town, just a 25-minute bus ride out of Cork. We bought 13-euro tickets to get into the gardens and started our adventure. When we first approached the castle, there was the smallest space in the stone base where you could climb through to see where the prisoners were kept. Then we made our way up into the castle, passing through bedrooms, the main banquet room, and the ‘death hole,’ which was a hole above the entrance where intruders could be stopped by throwing hot liquid or tar on them from above. Slowly making our way up the narrow and rocky spiraling staircase, we made it to the top of the castle.
Where the prisoners were kept...makes you feel claustrophobic!
Kissing the Blarney Stone is one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had. Seeing all these people from all over the world to line up and KISS the SAME stone is so bizarre, but…I did it anyway. In order to kiss the stone, you have to lay on your back, hold metal bars behind you, and lean backwards. Someone is there to hold your torso and clean the stone every once in a while (what a weird job description for that person) and another worker takes a professional photo for you. You can also have a friend take one for you. The are many stories about where the stone came from – the prophet Jeremiah, the deathbed pillow of St. Columba, brought back from the Crusades. A witch saved from drowning was believed to show its power. Now when you kiss the stone, you are granted the gift of eloquence.
The Blarney Stone is at the top of the Blarney Castle.
After my friends and I made our way out of the castle, we checked out the Poison Garden. This included plants like poison berries, plants that are mentioned in the Harry Potter movies (like Wolfsbane and Mandrake), and some plants that were thought to be herbal remedies but were actually harmful. As we kept walking there were so many more places to explore. We saw the fern garden, the icebox, and some twisted old trees for some good photo ops. Following the winding paths, we made our way up to the Blarney House, which is closed to the public, but a beautiful sight. My friends and I laid in the grass for a good time near here to take a quick rest.
A beautiful private house on the Blarney Gardens grounds.
There was still so much we missed including a lake, a rock close, and so many different gardens, but we had to get back to Cork in time to have dinner and take the last bus to Dublin at 6:30pm. The Blarney Castle & Gardens were so much more than we expected, and we wished we spent more than just three hours there. Take that as a tip if you are into beautiful landscapes and vegetation. It’s so tempting to stop by and explore again, but there are many more places I still need to see throughout my time abroad. This weekend I’m traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland!
Jessica Kisluk is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Broadcasting and Mass Communication major at SUNY Oswego, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
Jessica's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.